TV Without TV? Yes!

Hey guys! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope you’re having a wonderful time with your families out there and that Turkey Trot attire is all ready to perform, and Turkey is ready to go into that oven!

I am here today to talk about something different than my usual post subjects, but I hope you enjoy it. Before we dive in though, I wanted to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for another great year with Lean Lena. If it wasn’t for you, this blog wouldn’t have existed. It would have been stuck somewhere between a food journal and an exercise log.

THANK YOU for your ever inspiring comments, your support and dedication in making me a better blogger and making Lean Lena a better resource for indoor cycling instructors, TRX coaches and yoga enthusiasts.

TV without TV Continue Reading

Eating in California – A Week of Travels and Great Food

Eating in California might just be the best experience you’ve ever had on your family vacation. If it’s ever worth the money spent on eating out – California would be the place!

eating in california Continue Reading

Five On Friday: Kitties, Skiing, Bread Making and More

Hey guys! Happy Friday!

Today’s post is a list of 5 totally random Things I Like/Things That Happened.

Not sure how that goes into my regular blogging schedule ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess it doesn’t – just gonna be babbling here today ๐Ÿ™‚ Ready?Continue Reading

Tasty Tuesday Linkup #49 and Exciting Tasty News

Hey guys! Happy Tasty Tuesday Linkup day to you! How was your weekend?

Mine just flew by. Seriously, before I knew it – it was Sunday night ๐Ÿ™

This Saturday we (just out of the blue) decided it was Christmas – Take #2 at our house, at least food wise.

Hubby made an incredibly delicious leg of lamb! (I have no idea what’s gotten into him, I was afraidย I’d spook him if I asked).

tasty tuesday linkup Continue Reading

Mezzetta Memories: Salami Pasta Salad Recipe

Hey guys! Happy Tasty Tuesday to you ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, I’m cooking with Mezzettaย as part of the Mezzetta Memories campaign.

mezetta memories

With another bigย holiday upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday menu already!

Together with Mezzettaย I’m sharing my family traditions when it comes to holiday cooking.Continue Reading

30 Days Active Challenge: Week 4 Recap

Hey-hey my fit friends! It’s Hump Day and that means what?

Correct! Time for another 30 Days Active Challenge recap.

The past week was hectic and busy-busy-busy with both mine and my husband’s birthdays – I feel like all I ate was cake all week ๐Ÿ™‚

But yes, I did have this challenge I put myself through on my mind all the time and even on the days when I didn’t have an “official” workout, I tried to stay active or eat extra healthy.

So here’s what happened last week:

{WEDNESDAY}ย  was my birthday, so official workout didn’t really happen. I had a wonderful birthday celebration both at work and at home.

My awesome husband took me out to Rock Bass Grill for dinner where I had the 2nd best crab cakes in my life!

crab cakes

Guess what I got for my birthday? ๐Ÿ™‚

garmin forerunner

Yep, I’m married to the BEST guy in the world, you know? ๐Ÿ™‚

Exercise on Wednesday: walk-walk-walk!


We had a yoga class at work over lunch time. I love those classes! It’s like somebody pushes your reset button in the middle of the day and you come back to your desk all balanced and calm.

Then somebody pisses you off again, but that has nothing to do with yoga ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway. After work on Thursday I needed to go to CVS. So instead of driving a few blocks like I usually do, I walked there.

30 days active


There was so much cake on Wednesday at work, and then dinner at the restaurant….so we didn’t get to my birthday cake at home until Friday ๐Ÿ™‚


No official workout, but lots of activities and walking that day.


On Saturday I finally got a chance to try an indoor cycling class with a recently hired instructor at our Y. She teaches in the mornings on weekdays, which of course I can’t make because I work.

So I was pretty excited to see her name on the Saturday rotation class schedule this past week. I signed up and bam! I was there at 8:00 AM on Saturday.

Here’s my blurry “Pilot” at the end of the class ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s blurry because taking a picture while still pedaling is not the best idea in the world ๐Ÿ™‚

30 days active

The class was good, just a couple “funky” moves and that’s it ๐Ÿ™‚ I still got an awesome workout, which was nice – just being able to concentrate on your own effort without having to guide anybody else. ๐Ÿ™‚

After the class, hubby and I took a long walk to Cole’s bicycle shop where I almost agreed to buy a $1200 road bike… Crazy woman ๐Ÿ™‚

That didn’t happen, though. $1200 is waaaaaaay over the budget I was planning for my first road bike. So…we’ll keep looking ๐Ÿ™‚ I got fitted though and tried several bikes which was A LOT of fun!

Here’s the bike I was trying out on Saturday – Trek Lexa SLX:

$1200 is a good price for this bike. Just not good for my budget ๐Ÿ™ (sigh)

Good steps that day!

30 days active


No official exercise on Sunday. Hubby and I had something planned which ended up taking up most of our day (More on that this coming Tasty Tuesday).

So…steps, steps, steps.

{MONDAY} Cycling

Monday was my husband’s birthday. As I usually teach indoor cycling on Mondays, and he wanted to come to my class this week, I designed a riding profile just for my him – with the happy birthday song in the beginning and some of his most favorite songs throughout.

My class is called “Road Trip”. So I announced this past Monday class as a “Rocky Road Trip” because most of the songs in the class were rock ๐Ÿ™‚ If you would like to see the latest class playlist, check out this page here.

30 days active

Good burn and fun class. My birthday boy was happy with the ride ๐Ÿ™‚

We then got home and celebrated his birthday with his favorite coffee chocolate chip ice cream pie, and gave him a special birthday present he requested.


Steps-steps-steps. No official workout.

Healthy choice of the day:


Watermelon, strawberry, mint and cottage cheese smoothie

And that was it, my friends.

I am not particularly happy with the past week for a few reasons: I didn’t run once (my knee was being funny pretty much all week), I had too much cake, I had too many days with no official workout. I did stay active every day, I did what I could when I could. I guess it’s the most important thing, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it’s enough…

Ok, so today is Wednesday and it is the beginning of the final week of the challenge. I’m gonna make it count!

Stay tuned for the next week’s recap and more!

Lean Lena

This post has been shared on: Work Out Wednesday Link Up, The Hump Day Blog Hop

S’more S’mores: 5 Recipes You Will Want to Make

Hey guys! Happy Tasty Tuesday! I hope you had a nice weekend.

As usual – we’re partying today and celebrating all the tasty stuff in our lives ๐Ÿ™‚ Be sure to hop over to Meranda’s blogย to check out what’s cooking over in her part of the cyber space, and check out the party participants in the linkup below. Hey, got something to add to the party? Link it up!


We went camping on Saturday. I. Love. Camping.

When I was a kid we’d go camping every summer for a week. We’d tent by the lake, swim, cook food over the camp fire and go fishing. I looked forward to it so much every summer! And that’s where my ability to start a camp fire came from, as well as my addiction to poking it with a stick all the time ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚


Thankfully, my husband loves camping, too – so we try to make time and go camping every spring/early summer as a family.

One thing I discovered about camping when I moved to the US was S’mores (I know, right?). Oh. My. God. How come I didn’t know this goodness existed for the first 30 years of my life???


Anyway, no one can take that from me now – I love me some s’mores! ๐Ÿ™‚ And because I love them so much – that got me thinking about ways to bring s’mores into my life any day I want – not just when we go camping. Check out what I found!


Yeah, that’s my hand holding on to that S’more for dear life ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, back to the recipes! Click on the recipe name below to view the original recipe on it’s creator’s blog. Some of the recipes are quick and easy to make, others – more complicated and sophisticated. But one thing I can tell you for sure – those 5 will bring the camp fire favorite to your table any time you want it!

{ONE} No Bake S’mores Pie by Brown Eyed Baker

This pie looks mouth watering good, and according to the Brown Eyed Baker you only need 20 minutes to put it together! It doesn’t get any better, does it? ๐Ÿ™‚

{TWO} 5 Minute Chocolate Fudge S’mores Mug Cake by How Sweet It Isย 

For all of you mug cake AND s’mores lovers out there. You’re welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

{THREE} S’mores Stuffed French Toast by BS’ in the Kitchen

For this one, Bob over at BS’ in the Kitchen even has a video showing you how to make them!

{FOUR} S’mores Whoopie Pies by My Baking Addiction

Mmm….mmm…mmm… Right after I’m done with this post, I am going to look for a whoopee pie pan online so I can make these!

ย {FIVE}ย  S’mores Fudge by the Novice Chef

Fudge AND s’mores? Yes, please!

And that’s how your get s’more s’mores, guysย ๐Ÿ™‚

Do share: Camping – yey or ney? Tent or cabin? Can you start a camp fire?

Take care, friends! And don’t forget to link up your tasty posts below.

Lean Lena

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Valentine’s Day DIY Gift Ideas

Hey guys!

How did the Valentine’s Day get so close again? Totally sneaks up on me every year.

I have a selection of Valentine’s Day gift ideas for you if you are as into DIY as I am ๐Ÿ™‚ Links below will take you to tutorials on the blogs of the gift ideas’ authors.

{ONE} Wooden Polaroid Gift Set by Sugar & Cloth


{TWO}Photo Puzzle by All for the Memories


{THREE}Personal Picture Clock by Rosy Red Buttons


{FOUR}Garage Hook System by Lemontree Creations

Garage Hook System

{FIVE}Bookends for Baseball Lovers by Mod Podge Rocks


{SIX}iPhone Apps Magnets by Infarrantly Creative


Have a great Valentine’s Day, guys. Show some love to your special ones!

Question: do you ever make gifts yourself or do you prefer buying them?

Last Week’s Exercise Recap and a Fit Family

Hey guys! It’s Monday again! I know, I know…But hey – it is a new beginning, isn’t it? Say, if you didn’t exercise as much last week (like this girl) or made not so good ofย food choices (like this girl, too), you should be happy for this chance to start over, right?

Yeah, me too ๐Ÿ™‚

So, let me tell you what I did to exercise last week and a little about my fit family members. ๐Ÿ™‚


Was supposed to spin, but got held up at work until late and then I had a Skype call with mom scheduled for that night, so I didn’t work out. Rest day #1.


I don’t remember what the excuse was, but that was a Rest day #2! Keep reading ๐Ÿ™‚ I am going to get to the exercise part eventually.


I finally sucked it up and decided to try something new. The Wednesday Y schedule had Zumba on it, so I decided to go for it.

I had very little clue of what I was doing, but I had a blast!!! I really liked the atmosphere of the class – it felt more like a party than a workout. Thank you so much, Terre, for a great class!

Totally killed my knees though. I did my research in advance and chose the shoes that had little tread, but it still wasn’t enough for my knees.

So I amย a recovering zumbanaut ๐Ÿ™‚ Still.

Check out what a great burn it was, though! More than in some of the spinning classes I take.

Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby!


Guess what? Aha, that wasย the rest day #3. Right after work we headed to Simon’s swim meet. Oh, that was so much fun! I am so proud of him! Scored a smile, too (can’t take that for granted when it comes to TA boys:) )


He swam like he had a motor!


They also had a small party for seniors there that night. So sweet!


Simon got a bag of candy and a balloon with his name on it.


Of course the kitty had to have the balloon when we got home ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you mean it's not for me? Who is it for then?

What do you mean it’s not for me? Who is it for then?


Had to suck it up again and go lift – I am a fitness blogger after all, right? Not gonna keep my readers interested if I post about kitties all the time ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, on Friday I decided to go for an evening workout!

I walked on a treadmill for a bit to warm up:


And then lifted some heavy stuff!


I mostly worked on my arms, shoulders and abs as my legs were still sore from Zumba and I was saving them for Saturday morning ๐Ÿ™‚

The gym was almost empty. So were the locker rooms, so I had some fun after the workoutย ๐Ÿ™‚



On Saturday I took an early spinning class with Tara so I could later go to Carmen’s basketball game. The class was a blast! I could feel my heart in my throat the whole time – that’s a sign of a good workout ๐Ÿ™‚ A cold refreshing smoothie after that workout never tasted better ๐Ÿ™‚


Shortly after I got home and showered, we headed out to Carmen’s basketball season play offs. Her team won both games they played that day and are officially the #1 team in their league as of last Saturday. The last two games will be held next Saturday and I am sure these girls will be the Champions!



Was a busy day – all the prep. work for the Super Bowl (grocery shopping, cooking, setting the table, etc.) and….such a disappointment… Don’t even want to talk about the SB…

Let’s just end this with Sunday being Rest Day #4!

So. Let’s see… I didn’t exercise as much as I usually do last week, but I had a fun, busy week full of fun events and pride for my step-children.

I’ll count that as an AWESOME week!

Now, tell me: did you have a good week?

Stay fit and awesome, my friends!


Five on Friday

Hey guys! Happy Friday!

As usual, here is the Five on Friday postย – five things, events, adventures, foods, etc.. that I am loving/enjoying lately.

{{ONE}} Trip to get our wedding rings.

I dug this picture out from that trip and it made me feel so good!


We went to Frederick, MD to get our wedding rings and stopped at a Starbucks on the way. We were still unmarried, happy and full of goof like above ๐Ÿ™‚ Now – the only thing that’s changed is the “unmarried” part. Yep, still full of goof ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a great trip on a beautiful September day that I will always remember with warmth in my heart.

{{TWO}} Healthy Living Blogs Tea Swap

Yeah, I participate in a lot of swaps… But I can’t help myself – it is so much fun and I get to meet new people!

The idea behind this one is so simple and so fun – you get a name and an address of a person and you send them 2-3 teabags of your favorite tea. You then receive tea from somebody else on the swap in return. So – you get to meet 2 people.

Here’s what I got from Mindy atย Just A One Girl Revolution


I sent my tea package to Jessica at Fit & Fab Yogi. I haven’t heard back from her, but I hope the tea made it to her and she enjoyed it.

If you are interested in participating, keep an eye on the Healthy Living Blogs website for the new round of the program to start

{{THREE}} Meal Prep

I love it. Simply love it.

I usually get my “cooking bug” all active on the weekends anyway so why not put it to a good use and prep some meals for the coming week? Exactly – no reason why not.

Last week's salad prep for hubby and me

Last week’s salad prep for hubby and me

Things I usually make:

  • Quinoa
  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beet roots (boiled/steamed)
  • Chicken breast (baked, grilled, fried)
  • Wheat berries
  • Roasted nuts

These are the ingredients to throw together a great salad to take to work for a healthy lunch! And it saves you time on the weeknights when you are tired and oh so tempted to grab some comfort food for lunch or go out.

Seriously,  who wouldn't want this for lunch, right?

Seriously, who wouldn’t want this for lunch, right?

{{FOUR}} Single Serve Blender

I got this baby for Christmas from my husband and I am absolutely loving it!

Neither of my family membersย is a big fan of smoothies, so the single serve is just perfect! It has travel cup, too – so it is super easy to just make one serving, detach the cap and drink on the way to work.

Look what goodness I have made so far:

cherry-banana goodness

cherry-banana goodness

If you think that making a smoothie is a rocket science – it really is not. Check out this cheat sheet for making smoothies that I am using, curtsey of Super Skinny Me.


ย {{FIVE}} Polar Loop


I know I have more gadgets than I can handle already…But this is something to wish for ๐Ÿ™‚ Love the way it looks and what it does!

Maybe…maybe if I am a good girl, Santa will bring it for me next year ๐Ÿ˜‰

Check out the features and prices:

Awesome, right?

Now – your turn!

Share your Five on Friday with me.


Five on Friday or I Am Back

Hey, guys! Long time no post, huh?

I know…I know… Time to catch up and get back to my blog!

Today I am back with Five on Friday, which pretty much sums up what I have been up to while I wasn’t here with you. So, here we go!

{{ONE}} Christmas!

Where I come from, New Year is a lot bigger celebration than Christmas, and Christmas is celebrated on a different date, too (January 7). However, I came to love this wonderful holiday since I moved to the US. I love seeing smiles on people’s faces, giving and receiving presents and, of course, eating all the yummy things being cooked around this time of year!

We had a beautiful Christmas tree with a lot of presents under it!


And the kitty who thought those were all his gifts:


I got a great present (one of many)!

Braun Single Serve Blender!

Braun Single Serve Blender!

Oh, now you just wait until I start blending those wonderful smoothies and sharing recipes with you ๐Ÿ™‚

{{TWO}} Christmas Food – That’s Right, a Separate One for This!

Don’t you love Christmas for all the wonderful foods that bring back the memories of childhood, and make you feel safe and happy? I do! And since I am not American, I brought a little bit of my home to this year’s Christmas table.

Russian potato salad - "Olivye"

Russian potato salad – “Olivye”


Crepes stuffed with cottage cheese and raisins

Crepes stuffed with cottage cheese and raisins

Oh, and of course we had to make cookies to honor the American traditions!


By the way, did you know the story of the Peanut Butter Blossoms? Check it out here!

We also had a beautiful center piece for the Christmas table that I brought back from my company’s Christmas Party:


{{THREE}} The Evil Stepmother Speaks

A little over 2 years ago I became a wife to a wonderful man, and a step-mother to 2 great kids. As great as they are, it wasn’t all cakes and flowers between us. The kids struggled with getting used to having me in their life full time, having to share their daddy with me, finding a place for me in the new family paradigm, adjusting to the changes I brought into the family….Throw in the adjustment due to being newly weds who had never lived together before and you got a pretty “explosive” mix there. I was blessed with great kids who were trying their hardest to adjust, be nice and loving.ย ย With the most wonderful husband, who has been my shoulder to cry on, my biggest supporter and The Man of the family. With an understanding and kind ex-wife who stayed out of the way when it came to our house vs. her house, our life and our decisions. Who has been my silent supporter all the way for the sake of her kids’ happiness.

Even with all that – we have had and are still having issues, difficulties, tension and disagreements, which are bound to happen in any step-family.

Having no friends around to vent to, what do you do? Right, you get online and Google the “happy step-family”. So I did.

I am very happy to have found Barb Goldberg’s blog that I read as a book – cover to cover. I am thankful for the feeling of not being alone on this anymore that reading her blog gave me. (And for oh so many “Thank God, I thought I was crazy” relief sighs that I took while reading her blog).

I don’t agree with everything she writes about. Not everything she writes about applies to me and my situation, but I can certainly relate to a lot of what she is saying. Thank you, Barb, for the hope you gave me with your blog posts! They are so inspiring and motivating!

{{FOUR}} Dr. Kevin Leman and the Birth Order Factor

To continue educating myself on the subject mentioned above, I grabbed my Nook and started looking for books to read to find answers to the questions I have about stepfamilies and step parenting.

I stumbled upon Dr. Kevin Leman’s works on birth order and how it effects the relationships in families. I downloaded his book “Living in a step family without getting stepped on”, and even though the book is mostly about blended families where both spouses have kids from previous marriages, I found it to be a great resource to understanding how the whole family dynamics works, and where the issues come from. Great read!


{{FIVE}}ย  Back to Working Out

For the past month (oh my God…was it really THAT long?) my exercise has been very sporadic…2 weeks in Russia where all I did was walking from dinner table to dinner table, then Christmas with all the cookies and other delicious foods and practically no activity! It is time to get back on track here!

I did go to my regular Monday spin class!

I did go to my regular Monday spin class!

Tonight – yoga, and my usual Saturday Double tomorrow with my hubby joining me for the spin class part of it. How exciting is that?

And that concludes my Five on Friday post!

Your turn!


NYC Adventures – October 2013


Hey, guys! I hope you are having a great weekend!

I had a fun-fun weekend in NYC with my husband as part of our 2nd Wedding Anniversary celebration last week. As always – NYC was fun, bright, and full of life!Continue Reading

Five on Friday

Hello, myย friends! How have you been this week?

Hope you’re doing well on this beautiful day!

Today I am sharing the things I’m loving lately/great things happening in my life/exciting newsย – Five on Friday.


{{ONE}} Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary and Trip to NYC!

I will post the trip recap some time this week. This One of Five is about this awesome guy I met years ago and married 2 years ago – best “YES” I ever said!


He is my best friend, my one and only and I am SO lucky to have such a wonderful man by my side!

{{TWO}} Mantra Bands!

Aren’t they awesome?


My Mantra Band

I found these online and I was obsessed ever since. Head over to the Mantra Band and order your own to help you stay motivated on your fitness or any other journey!

Sept 30 spinning

See how it motivated me? ๐Ÿ™‚

{{THREE}} My latest kitchen gadget – crock pot!

My new crock pot

My new crock pot

Now this is a blessing for a family of 4 where both mom and dad work full time. I’m sure you know, but I just love saying it – throw the ingredients in, turn on, leave for work, come back to a delicious hot meal – that is what a crock pot is and I can’t believe it took me so long to get one.

Look at these wonderful things you can make in a crock pot:

Home made crock pot split pea soup

Home made crock pot split pea soup

Home made crock pot chili

Home made crock pot chili

if you add too much water to it like I did - you get soup instead of the stew, which is not too bad either

if you add too much water to it like I did – you get soup instead of the stew, which is not too bad either

{{FOUR}} My upcoming trip to Russia in November!!!

Super excited about it! I haven’t seen my family and friends for 2 long years!!!!


Got tickets in my pocket – leaving on November 27 and coming back on December 11. 2 weeks with my dearest ones! CAN’T WAIT!

{{FIVE}} Overnight Oats

Gotta love those! Easy and quick breakfast for week days. Just combine oats, almond milk and chia/flax seeds in a jar and refrigerate!

Take out of the fridge in the morning, heat up, add fruit, nuts, etc.. and your healthy breakfast is ready!



Your turn!


Junk Food: 2, Lena: 1

Hey guys!

I finally got to my blog – second time in this busy week, which sucked for the most part ๐Ÿ™‚

Let’s see….It’s Friday (YAY!), I am back to PT for an uncertain period of time (boooo), and heading to NYC this weekend to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary!!!

The past week healthy eating was challenged by:

lunch out with my husband on Monday

lunch out with my husband on Monday


Birthday celebration cupcakes at work

Birthday celebration cupcakes at work

Photo source – Catherine’s Cupcakery

movie night at home with my family

movie night at home with my family

Junk/Processed/Not-so-good-for-youย food – 2, Lena – 1.

There were some good/not-so-bad food choices and decisions this week, as well.

Fruit and yogurt for breakfast last Thursday

Fruit and yogurt for breakfast last Thursday


Home made crock pot chili

Home made crock pot chili


Mashed potatoes and chili on top

Home made crock pot split pea soup

Home made crock pot split pea soup

Whole grain orzo salad

Whole grain orzo salad

All in all, it wasn’t the best week food-wise.

On top of that, I pulled myย left calf on Wednesday night, ย went to my scheduled physical therapy session on Thursday and was immediately treated for the new disaster. And that’s right when I was going to start making my way out of PT some time after next week. No such luck. The pulled calf hurt like hell last night, but seems to be a little better today.

What I am most upset about is the rest days I have to take that I was not planning on. This injury once again messes up my entire exercise routine and I can’t ignore it because it hurts to move.

Erm…remind me – isn’t exercise supposed to make you fell better? ๐Ÿ™‚

Anywho, before my fitness life was interrupted by the pulled muscle, I managed to fit some fine exercise in last week:

12 ml ride in Monday's spin class

12 ml ride in Monday’s spin class

Weights and strength training with Jim on Wednesday

Weights and strength training with Jim on Wednesday


Yoga class with Jim on Wednesday

Yoga class with Jim on Wednesday

Blogging news:

Did you guys noticed the new banner? What do you think?

Also, the former “Healthy Recipe” page of the blog is now called “Recipes” (the sole reason for the name change is that what’s healthy for me can be unhealthy for somebody else, so let’s go with the neutral name) and is powered by ReciPage!

I am still in the process of transferring the recipes from one to the other, but very happy with the way the new page looks! I think it is a lot easier to brows recipes now. You can also search by key ingredients, cooking methods and alphabetically.

I hope you like it and I would appreciate any feedback!

I will see you guys next week with the NYC trip recap!

Have a great weekend and stay fit!

Birthday Recap and foods of the past few days

Hello, my friends.

Sorry for long silence – a lot going on here!

First of all – I got sick, have a real bad cold – sore throat, congestion, fever and all the other “pleasures”. Because of that I did not work out this week AT ALL so I am going through a bad withdrawal, too…All I could manage was keep going with my #plankaday.Continue Reading